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Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State

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Libya's violent, deadly civil war broke out five years ago as part of the so-called 'Arab Spring' that engulfed much of the Middle East and North Africa; the conflict, which erupted between Muammar Gaddafi's government and its opponents, resulted in his public execution and the utter disintegration of the prosperous state he had established since taking power in 1969.

© REUTERS / Goran TomasevicMuammar Gaddafi’s opponents gathered in Benghazi, the second largest Libyan city, and on February 15, 2011, demanded the release of lawyer and human rights activist Fathi Terbil. However, they didn't leave after he was set free; instead, they clashed with police. Security forces dispersed several hundred people chanting slogans against the authorities. Libyan media reported that 14 people received injuries during the clashes.

Above: vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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Muammar Gaddafi’s opponents gathered in Benghazi, the second largest Libyan city, and on February 15, 2011, demanded the release of lawyer and human rights activist Fathi Terbil. However, they didn't leave after he was set free; instead, they clashed with police. Security forces dispersed several hundred people chanting slogans against the authorities. Libyan media reported that 14 people received injuries during the clashes.

Above: vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011.
© REUTERS / Goran Tomasevic By late February, Gaddafi’s opponents had taken control of Benghazi. The National Transitional Council of Libya was set up in the city and all cities controlled by anti-Gaddafi forces were advised to obey the Council’s orders. Protests also engulfed Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Above: rebels hold a man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a Gaddafi loyalist, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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By late February, Gaddafi’s opponents had taken control of Benghazi. The National Transitional Council of Libya was set up in the city and all cities controlled by anti-Gaddafi forces were advised to obey the Council’s orders. Protests also engulfed Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Above: rebels hold a man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a Gaddafi loyalist, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011.
© REUTERS / Goran Tomasevic On February 26, the UN Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution imposing international sanctions on the Libyan leadership. By that time, Gaddafi had virtually lost control of eastern Libya.

Above: anti-Gaddafi fighters fire a multiple rocket launcher near Sirte, September 24, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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On February 26, the UN Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution imposing international sanctions on the Libyan leadership. By that time, Gaddafi had virtually lost control of eastern Libya.

Above: anti-Gaddafi fighters fire a multiple rocket launcher near Sirte, September 24, 2011.
© REUTERS / Goran Tomasevic On March 17, the United States and some of its Western partners pushed through a resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya through the UN Security Council. A NATO-led Western military coalition exceeded the UN mandate and launched airstrikes against state, civilian and military facilities in Libya, effectively supporting the insurgents.

Above: a rebel fighter supporter shoots an AK-47 rifle as she reacts to the news of the withdrawal of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces from Benghazi March 19, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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On March 17, the United States and some of its Western partners pushed through a resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya through the UN Security Council. A NATO-led Western military coalition exceeded the UN mandate and launched airstrikes against state, civilian and military facilities in Libya, effectively supporting the insurgents.

Above: a rebel fighter supporter shoots an AK-47 rifle as she reacts to the news of the withdrawal of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces from Benghazi March 19, 2011.
© REUTERS / Ahmed JadallahOn March 19, a foreign military operation was launched against Gaddafi’s regime, involving the armed forces of the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Denmark. French warplanes took off from Saint-Dizier-Robinson Air Base and conducted the first airstrikes against Libyan military units near Benghazi.

Above: a supporter of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi chants anti-US slogans during a protest in Tripoli March 18, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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On March 19, a foreign military operation was launched against Gaddafi’s regime, involving the armed forces of the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Denmark. French warplanes took off from Saint-Dizier-Robinson Air Base and conducted the first airstrikes against Libyan military units near Benghazi.

Above: a supporter of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi chants anti-US slogans during a protest in Tripoli March 18, 2011.
© AFP 2021 / Reproduction Philippe DesmazesThe armed uprising in Libya lasted about nine months. The war left thousands dead and Libya's economy in ruins. Muammar Gaddafi was eventually overthrown and killed on October 20, 2011, near his home town of Sirte where he was hiding from the opposition.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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The armed uprising in Libya lasted about nine months. The war left thousands dead and Libya's economy in ruins. Muammar Gaddafi was eventually overthrown and killed on October 20, 2011, near his home town of Sirte where he was hiding from the opposition.
© Sputnik / Andrey SteninThe NATO operation in Libya ended on October 31, 2011.

Above: opposition fighters.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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The NATO operation in Libya ended on October 31, 2011.

Above: opposition fighters.
© AP Photo / Sergey PonomarevFollowing Gaddafi's death, a power struggle erupted at state and regional levels between various clans and armed factions. The situation in the country effectively escalated into a civil war.

Above: a passenger plane destroyed by overnight shelling at the Tripoli International Airport outside Tripoli, Libya, Friday, August 26, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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Following Gaddafi's death, a power struggle erupted at state and regional levels between various clans and armed factions. The situation in the country effectively escalated into a civil war.

Above: a passenger plane destroyed by overnight shelling at the Tripoli International Airport outside Tripoli, Libya, Friday, August 26, 2011.
© AP Photo / Ivan SekretarevFollowing parliamentary elections on July 7, 2012, a confrontation between Islamists and moderate forces, supported by segments of the national military establishment, escalated into another armed conflict.

Above: in this Tuesday, June 28, 2011 file photo taken on a government-organized tour, Libyan women chant pro-Moammar Gadhafi's slogans as they attend a weapons training session in the town of Bani Walid, some 200 km (120 miles) south east of Tripoli, Libya.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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Following parliamentary elections on July 7, 2012, a confrontation between Islamists and moderate forces, supported by segments of the national military establishment, escalated into another armed conflict.

Above: in this Tuesday, June 28, 2011 file photo taken on a government-organized tour, Libyan women chant pro-Moammar Gadhafi's slogans as they attend a weapons training session in the town of Bani Walid, some 200 km (120 miles) south east of Tripoli, Libya.
© REUTERS / Goran TomasevicIn August 2014, two centers of power were established as a result of the conflict. A House of Representatives, officially recognized by the international community, was established in the city of Tobruk. The General National Congress, supported by armed factions, convened in Tripoli. Each parliament appointed its own government and prime minister. Five years after the outbreak of the war, Libyans finally formed a consensus government hoping to restore order in the destroyed state.


Above: rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi near Bin Jawad, March 6, 2011.
Arab Spring in Libya: The Merciless Destruction of a Once-Prosperous State - Sputnik International
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In August 2014, two centers of power were established as a result of the conflict. A House of Representatives, officially recognized by the international community, was established in the city of Tobruk. The General National Congress, supported by armed factions, convened in Tripoli. Each parliament appointed its own government and prime minister. Five years after the outbreak of the war, Libyans finally formed a consensus government hoping to restore order in the destroyed state.


Above: rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi near Bin Jawad, March 6, 2011.
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